>"Survival Sucks"

>While survival sucks, Cold Weather Survival Training certainly does not. During the week of 25 January, eleven members of SYCAMORE’s crew (along with nine shipmates from MUSTANG) attended a class on how to stay alive in beautiful (but potentially dangerous) Alaska.

The class was split into four teams: Bears, Moose, Wolves, and Wolverines. Each group was selected randomly meaning that each group was a mixture of SYCAMORE and MUSTANG crewmembers. These teams would get to spend the entire week together, and team members would learn to depend on each other for survival.

The first two days of the training were held in town, where instructors Dug and Jim taught everything from what plants and animals you can eat to fire building skills, and even included a survival suit swim in the frigid waters of Orca Inlet. The instructors frequently shared true stories of survival with the class, emphasizing the reasons that they were ‘survival stories’.

On Wednesday afternoon five SUVs departed Cordova and headed down the Copper River Highway towards Sheridan Glacier. After arriving at the location, soon-to-be survivors were allowed to bring their one-quart ziplock bag of supplies into the woods. Each group was assigned a section of land and was set loose to build shelters.

Over the next two days, the ‘survivors’ constructed windproof-waterproof shelters, built fires, learned the usefulness of tarps, and learned to cope with cold winter nights. After a fire starting race on Friday morning, the survivors deconstructed their shelters, were ‘saved’, and made the trip back along the highway into Cordova.

Regardless of previous experiences, everyone gained something from the survival training. Thanks to Dug and Jim’s program, the 20 graduates are more prepared to deal with the unexpected while working and playing in Alaska.

Crewmembers from MUSTANG (in gumby suits) and SYCAMORE (in ocean commander suits) during the survival swim in Orca Inlet.

The view of Sheridan Glacier from Jim’s base camp.

‘Survivors’ from MUSTANG and SYCAMORE pose for a group photo on day 2.
[Thanks to Dug and Jim for the group shot and the picture of the glacier]

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